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House passes Children’s Bill

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By Faith Kamtambe:

CHAZAMA—We would like to ensure that justice is done

Parliament has passed the Children’s Bill that would, among other developments, see the establishment of a National Children’s Commission in Malawi.

Lilongwe Central Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Lobin Lowe, brought the private Member’s Bill to Parliament for the establishment of the commission, arguing that, with rising cases of child labour and cases that impede the welfare of children in the country, there was need for Parliament to discuss and pass the bill.

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But Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Minister, Cecilia Chazama, said the ministry is already facing financial problems; as such, according to her “creating a parallel structure will not serve the purpose, as it will be duplication of efforts”.

Zomba Chisi Parliamentarian, Mark Botoman, concurred with Chazama, saying establishing the commission would be duplication of efforts.

Government Chief Whip, Henry Mussa, was also against the bill.

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In the morning, before the bill was tabled, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe rejected calls for the establishment of the commission, arguing that the government has no money for such an entity.

¨I have not been consulted on this bill; as such, this is not the time to add more commissions when the government has no finances,” Gondwe said.

But Lilongwe Mpenu Nkhoma Parliamentarian, Collins Kajawa, argued that Gondwe’s decision had to be reconsidered as the commission is important.

Dowa-East MP, Richard Chimwendo-Banda, who is also Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare Chairperson, rose on a point of order and said it was disheartening for Gondwe to say the government had no money for the commission.

After a heated debate, the bill was eventually referred to Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare.

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